"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Saturday 30 May 2020


Anonymous entices me to talk about amalgamations  and  why voters tolerate political behaviour. Political conduct is not tolerated ,it’s dictated by voters. But nobody ,it seems,  wants to talk about function of a  fire department as exposed by a  fire fought in Aurora last week.

Fire Chief Laing is a sensible straightforward director. He doesn’t play games. When he stated to the media that the building was a “teardown“ after three  days of  three fire departments working triple strength to extinguish it, he wasn’t being coy. He was stating a fact, and the fact is ,all that effort and expenditure was for nought. The same result would have been  achieved with no effort at all.

A  single incident cannot  of course be used to argue fire  protection is not needed. Another fire
might involve a town house complex or condominium  building and lives  more likely to  be at risk. But  this one is  enough to give us pause . When it costs more to extinguish a fire in an uninhabited building than  the building is worth , the question must be asked: Where is the logic?

It reminds of a fire in Etobicoke that  obsessed me for months. A full fire crew died. A  funeral parade was held to honour  their courage. They should not have died. The parade was a cruel farce; to obscure colossal error  in judgement, for which no-one was called to account.

The fire was in a warehouse. The second in days. Contents of said warehouse were massive rolls off absorbent  paper stacked to the ceiling. No lives were involved. An individual wearing firefighting gear did try to inform the process. His efforts were dismissed. He was just some meddling guy running around wearing a firefighters helmet.

Firefighters had no need  to be inside the building. Only property was involved. The community does not expect firefighters to risk their lives to save property.  But they were in the building and the crew leader did order a ladder propped against the stacks to take the hose deeper into the fire. They obeyed The absorbent tissue  was  already fully absorbed and  collapsed. The guy in the helmet was doing his job. He tried to warn them. There was no escape for the crew . They  suffocated in  a mass of soaking wet tissue.

 I lost sleep over such senseless horrifying loss of life and the farce that followed.I couldn't  stop talking about it.

Fire Services was the first committee I  chaired during my first term of office. Ours  was a Volunteer  Brigade with a full-time Chief elected by the brigade and appointed by Council. Only one committee was lower on the totem pole... Bylaws . .. Pete Miller and myself were the greenhorns.Volunteers ran their own show. Bylaws were the business of the Clerk/treasurer. I did not understand  how little
influence  the chair of the Fire Committee was expected to have.,

It occurred to me  a fire department should have up-to-date records  of all manufacturing processes in industrial buildings . That was years before firefighters lost their lives  in Etobicoke.

I also thought  it was not sensible  for men over forty-five to be hauling hoses with high water
pressure around  the site  of a fire.A volunteer who returned to work at the works  department after a fire call, had a heart attack and died. He was forty-five years old.

Aurora bought a second-hand ladder truck from Etobicoke fire department.. Periodically  substantial sums were spent on maintenance but the first time it was used was on a Mutual Aid call in Newmarket. Just  think about being up in the air, out at the end of one of those things waving about over the flames of a building on fire. It would surely have felt like  a marshmallow stuck at the end of a pointy stick.

No wonder Etobicoke sold the sucker.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know nothing about fires or firefighting, but can imagine that every fire is different. I would hope that the captain of chief or whoever the senior ranking person on scene could have made that type of decision to stop using resources including pulling back firefighters to fight a losing battle? In this particular fire, there were no other homes nearby, there was nobody in the home. What made them continue to fight this fire? I suppose we would have to ask the commanding officer.